Citizen Reporter
4 minute read
22 Oct 2019
5:31 pm

‘Demonic’ school artist explains the meaning of Grantleigh exhibition

Citizen Reporter

'You can feel the demons, you can feel the presence of this evil spirit,' one parent complained of the exhibition space.

Screenshot of one of the artworks that unleashed a storm at Curro's Grantleigh School in Richard's Bay, 22 October 2019.

In the wake of the Grantleigh artwork video going viral on social media, Grantleigh School on Tuesday morning issued a statement in which Grantleigh executive head Andrew Norris said the artwork in question was part of a final submission to the IEB and was displayed in the school foyer as part of a year-end exhibition.

The learner who created the artwork also issued a rationale behind each piece on display, reports the Zululand Observer, but he explained that the work demonstrates organised religion’s preoccupation with making money and its exploitation of those with blind faith.

He said one of the pieces was symbolic of the lack of choice children have when born into and raised in a particular faith.

“We have taken cognisance of the allegations made on social media. The matter is currently subject to an internal investigation,” said Norris.

“We want to reiterate that comments made are not an accurate reflection of our school and the situation referred to, and we reserve our rights in this regard.”

He said Curro welcomed all comments that were constructive and contributed to discussions in a meaningful manner, but that the school would not tolerate cyberbullying, religious intolerance, hate speech, derogatory language, misrepresentation and comments reflecting negatively on the school’s brand.

Earlier, a a choked-up parent of a pupil at the school filmed the art exhibition and said he considered it “demonical”.

“My God is no clown,” he said. “It felt like we were crucifying Jesus all over again,” said Ballito Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) pastor Andrew Anderson in the video he filmed and posted on social media.

A matric pupil’s interpretation of Italian renaissance painter and inventor Leonard da Vinci’s Last Supper had him almost in tears, with Jesus depicted as a clown as he broke bread for the last time before his crucifixion, with dollar signs painted on the lintel behind him.

The disciples were depicted as people and animals, with hats, sunglasses and some with horns.

Torn strips of the Bible featured in another work.

WATCH: Parent protests over Grantleigh school’s ‘satanic’ artwork

Panning over images that included a work inspired by Michelangelo’s Renaissance work The Creation of Adam painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Anderson was overcome with emotion at the image of a clown leaning out of the cloud for the iconic finger-touch imagery.

He said he loved the school, which his children attend, but when he walked into the exhibition for an awards ceremony in the hall, he was “very upset”.

“Everything is demonic powers, demonic things being displayed.”

He showed busts with horns growing out of their heads and shoulders, with one wearing a collage of torn-up pieces of Chronicles, a chapter in the Bible, on its torso.

In another, a clown has Jesus by the neck.

Anderson called for protests at the school whose ethos is “To God be the Glory”.

“What does this teach our children about the greatness of God?”

Speaking to News24, he said he just could not let it go, and spoke to a senior teacher about it who agreed with him.

“She said she will have to get a spiritual leader to come and pray at the school hall.”

However, he received the opposite reaction from the headmaster, and that was when he decided to go public.

“You can feel the demons, you can feel the presence of this evil spirit,” Anderson said of the exhibition space.

“I thought this can’t be. This can’t be right.”

He also believed that works like these contributed to societal problems such as murder, and divisions, and would also cause seemingly inexplicable problems at the school.

Anderson begged concerned people to raise their concerns with the school. His video has spread quickly.

He was of the view that there would have been strong backlash had the painting been about Islam.

Some people applauded the school for allowing the pupil’s work to be expressed.

But others were on Anderson’s side. At 547 comments and counting on the school’s Facebook page, the debate was intense over whether the school should have allowed it.

The school told News24 in a statement that it welcomed any comment on the pupil’s work.

However, it asked that the work not be uploaded to social media without the school’s consent because “the project had to be understood within the context of the assigned theme”.

This is not the first time art has caused a furore in South Africa, with a Brett Murray painting of former president Jacob Zuma getting many supporters riled up over The Spear, which depicted genitalia.

Artist Ayanda Mabulu has also stared down controversy over his paintings.

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